Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Now a Copper Kitty!

     I have a number of followers to this gilding series on the Picture Framer's Grumble message board so I decided I should elaborate just a little bit more for them as well as anyone else that's interested in the oil gilding process.  Since I had some copper leaf, thought to myself I should use it too so did two of the lids with it.  The size of these is approximately 4" x 6" and when the weather allows I'll post some pictures of the box and lid shellacked, waxed, and ready to go!

Copper Gilded Cat
     The copper leaf works pretty much the same as the gold but to my fingers it felt as if it wasn't quite as flexible.  I had more faulting around the outline of the carve with it then with the gold but as you see here.......

Fault Repair
........... it's just a matter of taking a small piece of the leaf and pressing it into those areas.  I suggest that you avoid rubbing over the sized areas too much as you leaf the piece because then you'll remove all of the size.  Large areas can be re-sized and re-gilded but it's hard to blend it in.  Something I should have mentioned before is that the burnisher/sealer material from Rolco is available in a yellow as well as the traditional red.  Just like the traditional clays used in water gilding you can apply the yellow in deep grooves and other areas you think the leaf will fault.  Now, when it does fault the undercoat is yellow which blends into the leaf color better.
     I mentioned burnishing the sealer before you gild the piece.  I found my can of Rolco's red burnisher/sealer and it's far superior to the spray can application of primer.  You really need to stir it well because there is a lot of clay in the mix.  Here's two pieces that have one coat of the red on them:

See the Difference?

     The one on the right side has been burnished with a wad of 4/0 Liberon oil free steel wool.  It's important to use the oil free variety.  Any oil left from the standard variety steel wool could mess up your finish.  The difference is pretty obvious, keep in mind that the leaf gets it's shine and luster from the surface below it.  Although oil gilded objects can't be burnished like a water gilded frame can it will still telegraph the surface that it sits on.
     Another thing I should mention is that once you've covered all of the surface with your gild, take a soft brush to gently remove all of the skewings from the surface.  I inherited this big, soft brush from my wife's make up drawer that works fine.

Skewings are the Remnants of the Leaf

     Once they're removed you'll be able to find the places that need to be repaired.  The size will remain tacky for up to 3 hours, depending on the humidity and temperature.
     Keep in mind that all of the metal leaf, Dutch gold, composition leaf, or what ever name it comes by needs to be sealed.  They are alloys of tin, brass, copper, etc.  Straight shellac works well and is compatible with any other finish.  I use an air brush to avoid runs and puddles.  There is a frame maker that has given demo's at the WCAF show who works with different chemicals to really make the metal leaf shine.  He gets some fantastic finishes on his frames -- I'm pretty sure his name is Eric Tolfinger  or something like that.  If you're interested you may be able to locate him through PFM magazine.
     Well, let me end this post by showing you the sample board with the copper and gold, side by side for comparisons sake.

     If you want to cut the shine you can rub it gently with the 4/0 steel wool before sealing but I've found that after 4-5 thin coats of sprayed on shellac some of the shine is taken off anyway.  Experiment with it, it's much cheaper and easier than precious gold. 

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